Clearly, Bruce Arena and his Galaxy would like to win down in Mexico on Wednesday, sneaking up on Monterrey and dashing away with the teams’ CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series.
But the Galaxy needs to be smart about it, too. Choices around Landon Donovan (pictured) represents a primary case in point.
Donovan sounds like he’s ready to play a little more. The Galaxy and U.S. all-time leading scorer has appeared in two matches since returning from his sabbatical, both as a second-half sub.
In a different situation, perhaps a bit of a stretch would be in order. But when the Galaxy conceded twice in the final 10 minutes of last week’s opening leg, the chances fell dramatically that Donovan and Company could survive Wednesday’s trip into Monterrey and land in this year’s tournament final. They aren’t in the grave here, but they’ve got one foot in it … and the other foot on a slippery grease spot.
Now consider that LA flies up to Dallas to meet Schellas Hyndman’s team in MLS action. Clearly, a chance to advance in Champions League, visions of that FIFA Club World Cup spot still alive, is more important than 1 / 34th of the regular season. But the killer 2-1 loss in Southern California shifts the personnel calculus.
Long story short, the Galaxy chances aren’t good in Monterry, and that deserves consideration as Arena doles out the minutes to important men like Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane, etc.
Here’s what Donovan said about it following LA’s final practice before departure for points south:
I feel great. We obviously have a busy week. We’ve got the game in Mexico and then the Dallas game which is obviously a big game for us. I think Bruce wants to be smart in how he uses a lot of people, myself included, but I feel great and when they’re ready to use me then I’m ready.
“I feel pretty fit, but to play a full game. I feel pretty fit, but until you play a full game, you’re not back to full fitness. If I’m called upon on Wednesday then I’ll go as long as I can and give us much as I can and we’ll see what happens.”